AMAs November 20, 2020

I made two Twitter bots with 600k+ followers and 7k users daily, for $100 per month. Ask Me Anything!

shalvah

Hi guys.

Thought I'd do some giving to the IH community rather than mostly lurking and getting.😄

I'm Shalvah, 23yo, based in Lagos, Nigeria. I'm the maker of @this_vid and @RemindMe_OfThis with a combined total of over 600k followers and 7k mentions daily. You can see some stats at thisvid.space/open.

I made these bots for myself (see my TechCrunch interview), to solve pain points or things I wish I could easily do on Twitter. I was surprised to see them become so popular and widely used. I've learnt a lot about managing large applications while keeping costs low (running everything for ~$100/mo, not counting domain name fees). Plus I ended up making a number of libraries to work with the Twitter API, and they even got listed in Twitter's docs😀.

Also, they're fully open-source (here and here), because I'm a fan of open-source, and I really want other folks to be able to learn like I have.

So, that's me. You can see more stuff I've done on my personal website. Ask away!

  1. 5

    Hey, nice job. How did you land on TechCrunch?

    1. 2

      I actually have no idea.😅 Someone from TC just DMed me about it one day.

    1. 1

      Neither haha. I'm not a pets person. 🙂

  2. 2

    Man this is awesome....I feel so happy I get to see how awesome people like you do things on IH...thank you...

    I see your sites are very minimalist and are not that good with design... checkout nodesign.dev ...

    how much of that $100 do you pay twitter...

    1. 1

      I see your sites are very minimalist and are not that good with design... checkout nodesign.dev

      Indeed they are 😅. nodesign.dev looks like an awesome product. Thanks!

      how much of that $100 do you pay twitter
      $0. It's really just AWS fees and Redis.

  3. 2

    Oh wow. I use @RemindMe_OfThis all the time, great job Shalvah!

  4. 2

    Great, do you have linkedin ? Why not putting your personal twitter on the page of @this_vid for winning some followers ?

    1. 1

      Here's my LinkedIn.

      Why not putting your personal twitter on the page of @this_vid for winning some followers ?

      I'm somewhat publicity-shy. For the longest time, I avoided linking to myself as the creator. Now I don't link directly from their bios, but with a bit of work, you can find me.

      I don't really care about Twitter follower numbers. It's a personal space for me, not a commodity. I don't want a large audience; I want an audience that I can be myself with.

  5. 2

    How long have you been learning to code?

    What sources to attribute your learning from, to be able to build something like this?

    1. 1

      I started coding in 2013. I talked about my journey briefly in the TechCrunch article.

      Re sources—hmmm, I haven't had a definite learning path. Open-source was a big help, and I've learnt from other developers on Twitter, at work and in some online communities.

      1. 2

        I guess over the 7 years you've been exposed to a lot code and picked up a lot on the way that has compounded.

        I've only just started this year, so it's really interesting to know the story behind success! I'll read over the article. Thanks for the answer!

  6. 2

    Hi shalvah, I like your work (not just this_vid). I've DMed you on twitter. If you're interested in a co-conspirator, let me know.

  7. 2

    Omo Iya mi! 💪 Wagbayi!

    I'd advice you start collecting emails. 7k daily users is huge!

    If you have just 20-50 plug in their mails per day (that's a worst case scenario) you'll amass quite a handful in a month or two.

    As a result of that, your next product launch will have an audience down already.

    Plus, you can also monetize it big time. Take for instance, based on your previous launch and how successful @thisvid is then people will already trust you.

    If you launch a product for $50 and have 100 people out of let's say 10,000 email subscribers, you have $5000 for a start.

    Think about it.

    Best,
    Joseph.

    1. 1

      Lool, I don't speak Yoruba oh. But thank you.

      1. 1

        Check the edited comment, and think about it.

        1. 1

          Thank you. I like keeping things simple and avoiding extra friction, so I'm skeptical about the email idea. But you have a good point, and I think I can do something about that. Thanks.

          1. 2

            If you ever want to launch let me know. I can help you out.

  8. 2

    Very neat. And your personal story is very inspiring. I had a pleasure reading it.

    Good luck to you, you seem to have the qualities to become very successful one day.

  9. 2

    Do you make money from the Twitter not and how?

    1. 2

      Yes but no.

      • I have a Patreon for folks who want to support my work (which includes other projects too)
      • I added AdSense to thisvid.space a few months ago. It's making somewhere around $1k/mo, I think, but I can't access it yet because of the difficulty in setting up payouts to Nigeria.
      • I don't make any money directly from @RemindMe_OfThis
      1. 5

        There's this prince trying to get the money OUT of Nigeria. You're saying you can't get the money IN?

        Joking aside, what kind of problems are you having with this part?

        1. 1

          Lol. The address verification part. Been waiting for the mailed PIN for months now. Our postal service is really more of a black hole than a portal, so I'm crossing my fingers that Google allows me to use a different method of verification.

          1. 1

            amazing isn't it that a tech company like Google would use post.
            Time for them to use btc for payout...

            1. 1

              It was surprising to me too.

          2. 1

            Can you use a virtual mailbox service in the US? This way you can provide a US address that physical mail gets shipped to before being scanned for your remote reading?

            1. 1

              Thanks. I don't know if that'll work (payout details are a bank in Nigeria), but I'll probably look into trying that if everything else fails.

      2. 1

        damn dude that sucks about having money you can't access

        1. 1

          Yeah. Staying hopeful though. 😅

      3. 1

        Wait your a sense make about $1k per month. Fucking damn. Will you be free to advise me on a project?

        1. 2

          You can ask me, but it's really a sort of accidental success. I didn't plan for this, just sorta stumbled into it. 😄

          1. 2

            i need this accident money. lol

  10. 1

    why not dynamoDB instead of redis ?

    1. 1

      Never started out thinking of a database. Initially it was just a place to cache video links to avoid hitting API limits, so Redis was fine.

      Later on, when I started storing more data and user settings, I considered a db, but a friend showed me I could actually stick with Redis. It's working quite nicely for me.

      (Even if I wanted a db, I'd have picked MongoDB over DynamoDB. Not looking to be locked-in unnecessarily.)

  11. 1

    Baba I hail you. This is coming from a Nigerian Software Engineer in the US. Keep up the good work. Tryna get inspired from your work

  12. 1

    Your code is really well written and for once, I enjoyed going through the src, instant star worthy.

    Guess my only question is, do you use the restricted or premium version of twitter's API? If it's the latter, how much do you pay for it? If not, have you checked out the v2? Thoughts on that?

    1. 1

      Thanks! I use the regular free APIs. I've only checked out v2 cursorily, but I don't see much of an improvement in the place I'd like best (rate limits), so no plans to migrate soon.

  13. 1

    This is super, dude. I see @this_vid pop up in Twitter threads all the time. Hope you can monetize it, if that's your goal.

    1. 2

      It isn't, but a lot of people have pointed out the opportunity to me, and they're making sense. 😅

  14. 1

    Wow, this is really neat work!

  15. 1

    How long have you been learning to code?

    What sources to attribute your learning from, to be able to build something like this?

    I hope you will answer me 😁

    1. 1

      Ummm..I think someone already asked these in another comment, and I've answered.

  16. 1

    This is awesome Shalvah!! Any future plans for more Twitter bots?

    We're thinking of creating to tag the @buildinpublic_ twitter account when anyone tweets with the words Build in Public.

    1. 1

      Well, I've kinda hung up my boots when it comes to bots. Frankly, I've had enough of the stress of Twitter's API. But perhaps I might give it another go if a compelling enough idea comes along.

  17. 1

    Hey, really nice work. Gone through your repos and I can see that you use amazon services. How do you keep the costs for these services so low?

    1. 1

      Well, being from a poor background, it's always a priority for me when building to keep things as cheap and simple as possible without sacrificing quality. For instance oldtweets.today costs me $0—GitHub Pages and Google Cloud Functions.

      I'm much better financially now, but I still avoid spending unless I know I need it or it will improve quality or efficiency. My first port of call is good free or cheap services that can get me what I need. I even compiled a list, and I hope to make services like that too.😄

  18. 1

    this is really awesome! how much has your initial architecture changed form day0 to today? did you consider scale right from the get go?

    1. 2

      No, I didn't think much of scale, tbh. Never expected that much usage. In fact, when I launched the /open page some months back, it went down in seconds because too many people were visiting and causing API limits. 😅 Learnt and adapted as I went on. Using serverless was a big boon.

      Regarding architecture: it's mostly the same. A couple of Lambda functions + Redis. Added the websites later, powered by the same stack. Added Firebase for push notifications. Used CloudWatch for monitoring initially but switched to Sentry recently.

  19. 1

    Awesome! Have you considered looking into a similar solution for Instagram?

    1. 1

      Nope. I don't use Instagram or plan to, and from what I've seen of the Instagram APIs, they're even more of a pain to work with than Twitter's.

  20. 1

    Wow! That's sound great but I want to know the method to get more followers at Twitter for individual accounts. Do you offer anything like that?

    1. 1

      Nope. The growth was entirely organic.

      1. 1

        Means you only used organic methods? Like F2F method, quality post with trending hashtags etc?

        1. 2

          Means I didn't do anything, beyond occasionally talk about the bots on my personal account. People found them useful and saw others mention them, so I didn't have to do much.

  21. 1

    Do you use python or Javascript

    1. 2

      JavaScript. The links to the repos are in the post.

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